The House yesterday voted a $9 million grant to rebuild Wolf Trap's Filene Center, which was destroyed by fire last April. Another $9 million loan for Wolf Trap will be decided on when the Congress looks at next fiscal year's budget.
The funds were a small part of a $14.4-billion supplemental appropriations bill that the House passed. Wolf Trap had asked the government for money because the park is run by the government, which did not insure it.
Although the House has now voted an appropriation, Wolf Trap will get the funds only if the Senate does the same and Congress also passes a measure authorizing such funds for rebuilding. Yesterday morning, a House authorization subcommittee heard testimony from opera singer Beverly Sills and Wolf Trap donor and founder Catherine Shouse.
"There is no question that Wolf Trap is one of the greatest festivals this country has ever produced," said Sills, one of many artists whose performances at Wolf Trap have been televised. "It's an ugly world we're living in today," she said, and "we shouldn't deprive ourselves" of any source of beauty.
But the president of a national citizens' group warned Rep. John Seiberling (D-Ohio), chairman of the House Interior Subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks, that traffic noise from a toll road that the state of Virginia plans to build near Wolf Trap may interfere with performances.
"They're building parallel lanes on either side of the Dulles Access Road that will accommodate trucks," said Marian Agnew, president of Contact U.S. Wolf Trap now sits about 500 feet from the Dulles Access Road, according to Seiberling. "I don't think performers can perform against the backdrop of 18-wheeler trucks."
National Park Service officials at the hearing said that a 25-foot high barrier would be erected between Wolf Trap and the planned highway, but Agnew said that might not reduce the noise sufficiently.
"If that turns out to be the case, that throws a real cloud over rebuilding Wolf Trap," said Seiberling, who noted that he does believe the federal government has a responsibility to rebuild Wolf Trap. "It's already too close to the highway." Sieberling has asked for reports from acoustics experts on the possible noise problem. "At worst, the Secretary of the Interior will have to assure us that the level of noise will not be sufficiently greater than it is now. Maybe we will have to close the toll road in the evenings."